I try not to post about general news and events in the points, miles and travel world as there are already a ton of blogs and websites that provide daily reaction to just about every story, large and small. However, there have been quite a few recent events that have occurred that I wanted to summarize and add my opinion.
Southwest Flight Credits No Longer Expire – This is massive news for Southwest fliers. Until yesterday, when trips were canceled, the flight credit expired one year from the booking date. Southwest Airlines announced that those credits will no longer expire. This will provide much more flexibility for travelers. This will also help those with American Express Platinum (and Aspire) airline fee credits, as you can currently book any cheap Southwest flight under $100, get the flight cost credited back and then cancel the flight to have a flexible credit to use on a future flight. Now those credits will not expire. Let’s hope that other airlines follow suit and also make their flight credits more flexible.
Spirit/JetBlue Merger – Spirit Airlines looked all set to merge with its low fare cousin Frontier Airlines until JetBlue swept in and offered a higher share price. Now, it appears that JetBlue is victorious and will acquire Spirit. People who love each airline (yes there are Spirit lovers) are nervous about how this will actually work. Will Spirit’s yellow aircraft be converted to JetBlue configurations with more expensive fares, extra legroom seats, Mint business class at the front, seat back entertainment screens, and free internet? Or will JetBlue aircraft be converted to flying buses with lower fares, tight legroom, Big Front Seats and upcharges for everything? I sense it will be a long time before either of these things occurs and both airlines will continue to operate somewhat separately for a couple of years while all of this gets ironed out. JetBlue will also have to sort out how this acquisition affects its Northeast Alliance with American Airlines. Meanwhile, where does this leave Frontier? It’s probably a target for purchase by one of the big three airlines now for it’s routes, aircraft and staff.
Struggling European Airports and Airlines – This summer has seen a massive return to travel for many people, particularly Americans now that the re-entry testing requirements were lifted in June. Many headed to Europe as it had been at least three years since the sights of London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, etc. were within reach of most of us. Airlines and airports across Europe have been struggling to keep up with the demand. We’ve seen thousands of pieces of luggage being lost and/or delayed in Amsterdam, London, Paris and other major airports. We’ve seen airlines cancel flights due to staffing issues (and even a one-day strike in Frankfurt cause Lufthansa to cancel their entire schedule for a day). Obviously, many travelers have been affected, but it has not seemed to deter most from taking their long-delayed trip. If you are still planning a trip, things will probably remain a bit crazy through Labor Day as many European school kids are just now starting their summer breaks. Try not to check bags and keep a close eye on your flight bookings for changes and cancellations. If you’ve booked a partner airline using points and miles, be especially vigilant as you may not receive immediate notification of a change or cancellation. I hope you don’t have too many issues if you are headed to Europe on that long-delayed vacation.
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